Finding the Missing Nature’s Fifth Force

It's revolutionary.

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Finding the Missing Nature's Fifth Force
The orbits of two stars, S0-2 and S0-38 located near the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole will be used to test Einstein’s theory of General Relativity and potentially generate new gravitational models. IMAGE CREDIT: S. SAKAI/A.GHEZ/W. M. KECK OBSERVATORY/ UCLA GALACTIC CENTER GROUP

There are four fundamental forces that drive the universe. They are as gravity, electromagnetic, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. But, now scientists are finding for nature’s fifth force. If it exists we’d have to rethink our understanding of how the Universe actually works. To do so, scientists have discovered a way to put this mysterious force to the ultimate test.

The four forces of nature hold the standard model of physics together that predicts the behavior of particles and matter in our Universe. And there are also two other forces present at the smaller scale. 1. the strong nuclear force and 2. the weak nuclear force.

The first two forces of nature are classified in the larger end of the scale. The electromagnetic force is essential to keep our molecules together and gravity is responsible for ensuring that entire galaxies and planets aren’t ripped apart.

After understanding the complete theory, scientists found a problem. They found that gravity is the ‘odd one out’ in this very important group. It also doesn’t appear to explain everything that it should. Even a placeholder called dark matter hasn’t exactly helped its case.

Andrea Ghez, director of the University of California said, “Einstein’s theory describes [gravity] beautifully well, but there’s lots of evidence showing the theory has holes.”

“The mere existence of supermassive black holes tells us that our current theories of how the Universe works are inadequate to explain what a black hole is.”

Now, scientists are on the hunt for this hypothetical nature’s fifth force.

He said, “the best place to look would be somewhere in the Universe where the influence of gravity is so strong, signs of something extra will be easier to detect.”

They then analyzed sharp images of the milky way taken by the Keck Observatory in Hawaii to track the orbits of stars near our galaxy’s supermassive black hole. Through this, they can measure the direct influence of gravity on the stars’ movements.

Ghez said, “This is really exciting. Studying stars at the center of our galaxy is opening up a new method of looking at how gravity works.”

“By watching the stars move over 20 years using very precise measurements taken from Keck Observatory data, you can see and put constraints on how gravity works.”

“If gravitation is driven by something other than Einstein’s theory of general relativity, you’ll see small variations in the orbital paths of the stars.”

Scientists are now want to take part in the event next year when a star called S0-2 will draw closer than ever to our galaxy’s supermassive black hole. It may be pulled at maximum gravitational strength.

According to the team, this will be the best time to spot them.

Lead researcher Jonathan Feng from the University of California said, “If true, it’s revolutionary. If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible nature’s fifth force would completely change our understanding of the Universe, with consequences for the unification of forces and dark matter.”

“We’re still a long way off figuring out if this force actually exists, but this new technique will be the first time scientists have ever looked for it in a gravitational field as strong as the one created by a supermassive black hole.”